Young Children Need Different Visitation Schedules than Older Ones

We’ve written about the Standard Possession Order before. The Standard Possession Order sets out detailed visitation schedules for parents and children. But the Standard Possession Order itself states that it isn’t necessarily in the best interest of young children, under the age of three. It’s also not necessarily the best arrangement for kids up to five or so. Courts and parents often craft custom visitation orders for young children. The experienced child custody lawyers at Houston-based Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., can help you create a custom visitation order.

Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., is a versatile, six-person law firm. The firm’s two partners are Shannon Boudreaux and Kevin Hunter. Both are graduates of Houston’s South Texas College of Law, where Ms. Boudreaux earned a spot on the Dean’s List and Mr. Hunter excelled in oral advocacy. If you have young children and there is a custody dispute, contact Ms. Boudreaux or Mr. Hunter immediately to plan what is best for your children.

Special Circumstances for Young Children

Young children need more frequent contact with their parents than older ones. One reason for this is that young children perceive time differently than older children or adults. An hour can be like a day, or a day like a week. If these children do not have what, to them, is frequent contact with a parent, the relationship will suffer. In addition, not having enough time with each parent can cause a child to have difficulty later in life forming relationships with others.

Visitation for Infants

Parents should have frequent, brief visits with infants, even daily should the parents’ relationship permit. Of necessity, an infant will stay with one parent as primary caregiver because infants require care around the clock. That parent often, but not necessarily, is the mother, especially when the mother is breast-feeding. However, by using a breast pump, a mother can provide the father with milk to allow longer periods of visitation.

Young Children Ages Six Months to Two Years

Obviously, the infant-visitation stage is transitional. As the child grows older, the child’s sense of time changes such that each parent can enjoy longer periods of time with the child. Judges, psychologists and family law attorneys have created alternatives to the Standard Possession Order:

  • “Two and two” – In other words, parents alternate two-day periods of time with young children. This arrangement works best when parents are cooperative, able to communicate and do not have disruptions such as other children who are not subject to a special visitation order.
  • “Week on/week off/Wednesday” – In this situation, the parents each have young children for a week, then do not have them the next week, except that they have Wednesday overnights with the child.
  • “Week on/week off” – Perhaps the children are older, or Wednesday overnights won’t work. The parents might then adopt a true week on/week off schedule even though that schedule separates the child from each parent for a week at a time.

Ages Three Through Five

When young children reach the age of three, there is a presumption that the Standard Possession Order is in the child’s best interest. But that does not mean that parents may not agree to a visitation order. Further, a court may vary from the Standard Possession Order under certain circumstances.

Alternatives to the Standard Possession Order for these children include the alternatives mentioned above. Also, parents may tinker with these alternatives. For example, parents could adopt a week on/week off schedule but allow the holiday provisions of the Standard Possession Order to override them. Parents may also agree to break down summertime visitation into smaller segments than the month-apart summer provision of the Standard Possession Order.

Parental Agreement for Young Children is Best

Few custom visitation orders for young children will work unless the parents are able to cooperate and be civil with each other. This is apparent from the relatively brief time periods apart from each parent that these alternative schedules suggest. Acrimony between the parents will poison any visitation schedule, especially one for young children.

Creating a visitation plan for young children requires the assistance of skilled attorneys. The attorneys must understand the psychological impacts of a child’s visitation and separation between parents. They must also have a deep understanding of Texas child custody law to craft visitation plans that will be best for the child and acceptable to both parents. If you find yourself divorcing with young children or having difficulty with visitation for them, you should contact Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., right away, by calling (713) 333-4430 or visiting our contact page.